WHUISA Notes from Premier League Supporters Meeting – Tuesday 20th March
Premier League, 30 Glouester Place, London,W1U 8PL
The formal minutes will be published by the Premier League (PL) and the Football Supporters Federation shortly but here some key notes.
The meeting was attended by an FSF affiliated representative from every Premier League Club as well as the Chief Executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore (RS) and Bill Bush, the Director of Policy. Along with representatives from the FSF.
The PL is open to the idea of a winter break. The Clubs and supporters do not seem fussed about the idea. The decision is for the Football association who obviously are in charge of the England Team and the FA Cup. The idea is not being driven by the PL.
A decision on if it will be implemented in the PL expected by the end of April and could go either way. For logistical reasons needs to be made now as it’s expensive and the PL are pleased they “didn’t go first” with its introduction. Club’s position has waned since the first trials. Data shows it’s popular with TV fans but not with match attending fans. RS stressed that it’s solely for the benefit of the referee and not just to benefit TV.
The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) are not minded to change their position on Standing and will stay with the current Green Book guidance. They are also keen to highlight the plague of hidden injuries at games though have no stats to back this up (like people hurting their shins on the seats in front while standing in a seated section.) The point was made famously by Ken Scott who said that “the only truly safe football stadium is an empty one.” It was also highlighted that 70% of supporters stand at some point during the game.
The issue with a standing area is that it would have an impact on fans who wanted to stand elsewhere in the stadium, forcing a too heavy handed crackdown. Also the issue would away sections been standing or sitting. Spirit of Shankly did a survey that suggested lots of people where pro a standing area even if they themselves wouldn’t use it.
WHUISA will shortly set up a working group to explore this issue within the London Stadium.
The issue on how clubs engage with supporters was raised at length and no standard process has been agreed. PL where aware of the issue at West Ham and are minded to allow the clubs to decide who to engage but there was an issue of reputational knock on to the PL. If an investigation is launched it would be done so by the FA on bringing the game into disrepute.
Safety and Away Allocations
There is growing concerns that local Safety Advisory Groups (SAG) are using new guidance to reduce the away allocations. The PL will monitor this. Newcastle have failed again to move their away allocation to meet with the new rules. The PL considered taking out a JR but they were told they would lose by their legal team. The FSF raised the point that the Newcastle SAG raised their concerns on public order and not safety. Duncan Drasdo (MUST) raised the issue that the SAG are too close to the club and political pressure was needed.
There were two television packages still left to sell. New pack formations mean that SKY now have all the first picks and BT have all the second picks, this will avoid the ping pong style selection we’ve had up to now which in turn has led to the delay in announcing TV fixtures. Sky have four of the new packages, BT have only the one so far. Often it’s the SAG that cause delay in deciding fixture dates – not the TV companies. There is no appetite for Saturday evening games (because TV doesn’t want to go up against other primetime shows and are “alleviant” said RS) but the issue is the logistics of fitting the other games in without a before Noon Sunday game or an evening Sunday game. From Sunday games will only kick off at Noon, 2:00pm and 4:30pm– no moving around like the current package. Sky where praised with good fan engagement and BT not so much so. Both of them are aware of away supporters when deciding fixtures.
· The Premier League will advocate the continuation of the £30.00 away price cap
· RS will raise with the clubs the introduction of standard young person ticket prices (16-21)
· Work will be done by the supporters groups jointly to lobby for the away tickets to reflect the journey needed to make the game (though this isn’t universally supported) and to lobby the Train Operating Companies along with the EFL for a set price rail fare that can me moved should a game be switched for the television. WHUISA will support this and will write to members shortly and will establish a train cap petition for West Ham United fans.